Strangers

Thirty minutes.

That's how long he's been staring at her.

She sits at the table with her eyes trained on the book in her hand. Her brow is creased; she gnaws on her lower lip. All around her people are sitting and standing, walking and talking, coming and going, but she takes no notice. An almost full cup of coffee sits on a saucer on the table in front of her, steam long gone. Occasionally, she shifts in her seat, sometimes crossing her legs only to uncross them a couple of minutes later. She pays no mind to her surroundings, engrossed in the story unfolding the pages before her.

Sometimes her eyes widen and her mouth forms a small 'o'. Sometimes she shakes in silent laughter, her eyes filled with mirth. Sometimes he swears he hears her sniffling and he sees her dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. Sometimes she just sits there with a small smile on her face.

He thinks she's captivating.

He also thinks it's unfair she's so captivating since he's sitting there without her even noticing his existence.

She's been coming in every Friday for the past two months. He knows; he's kept track. Always buying a cup of coffee, only to ignore it the minute she sits down and opens her book. He's quite sure she reads a different book every week - quite remarkable since her books aren't exactly Of Mice and Men. Right now it's The Fellowship of the Ring.

He noticed her the first time he came to the coffeehouse. All he wanted to do was to take a break from studying for an exam he had the next day. He went in, fully intending to just sit and enjoy people watching and maybe accomplish a bit of writing.

Needless to say, all he watched that day was her.

He came back the next week at around the same time, hoping to see her again.

He wasn't disappointed.

Since then he's come back every week at five on the dot, not wanting to miss her.

She arrives at around five thirty in the afternoon; he thinks she comes in right after her classes end. There's a university nearby and he's seen her once or twice on campus.

He looks at his watch.

Break's over. Time to go back to studying for his midterms.

Next week, he thinks. Next week, he'll talk to her.

Maybe.

He tears his eyes away from her, finishes his coffee and stands. He puts on his jacket, grabs his wallet, keys and notebook and heads out the door, not noticing the pair of eyes following him into the night.

x-x-x

Thirty minutes.

That's how long she's been pretending to read.

She can feel eyes on her. She knows it's him. She's known since the first time she noticed him a month ago. At first it was disconcerting, and then she found it infuriating. When she finally looked up to see who was staring holes into her, he blushed and averted his eyes.

After that, she changed her mind and found it flattering, maybe even a little adorable.

She tries to go back to the engrossing world of Middle-Earth.

It doesn't work.

She resigns herself to watching him.

He has a notebook out and is writing intently, the tip of his tongue sticking out his mouth. He pauses every once in a while, then his pen starts flying all over the page. His brow is crumpled most of the time. Sometimes, he stops writing for a long period of time; she stares intently at her book whenever that happens, as that is when he stares at her.

Sometimes he cocks his head to the side while reading what he wrote. She thinks he looks rather like a lost puppy whenever he does that.

He's always sitting across the room when she arrives at five thirty. At first she thought it was just a coincidence that he happened to occupy the same table every Friday, but after a month, she concluded that he sat there because of her.

Yes, she is a bit too sure of herself at times.

After a while of pretending to read about the adventures of Frodo and Sam, she sees him getting ready to leave in her periphery.

Abandoning all pretense of reading, her eyes follow him out the door.

x-x-x

The next week, he drops a piece of paper on her book on his way out the door.

Baby, you light up my world like nobody else.

He can see her from outside. She laughs and looks around, trying to find the person who gave her lyrics to a One Direction song. He ducks out the way before she sees him through the glass door.

He walks away whistling with a spring in his step.

What he doesn't know is that she saw him writing the note before he left.

x-x-x

You by the light is the greatest find. In a world full of wrong you're the thing that's right.

This note was given to her when the barista gave her the coffee she ordered.

She glances at the direction of his table, noticing that he was covering his face with a newspaper, only the top of his head visible.

She smiles at heads to her usual table.

x-x-x

Don't break my heart before I give it to you.

Her eyebrows lift upon reading his latest missive, delivered the way the first one was. Her eyes follow him out the door.

Once he's out of sight, she turns back and tries to listen to the man beside her.

x-x-x

She was reading a book called Little Brother the next time he saw her.

x-x-x

You have stolen my heart.

He cringes at the line he's written.

It's probably one of the cheesiest lines he's ever come across.

He leaves it with the barista anyway.

x-x-x

If you see my girl, just tell her I miss her smile.

She notices for the first time that he's not there that day.

She warms at the thought that he went through the effort of passing by just to leave her a note.

x-x-x

I should go before my will gets any weaker and my eyes begin to linger longer than they should.

It's ridiculous how obsessed he is by her, given that he's never actually heard her voice. He's never spoken to her. He doesn't know what her favourite color is. He doesn't know if she likes dogs or cats, if she prefers the sun or the rain. He doesn't know if she's a Twilight kind of girl or if she's more Harry Potter.

Many times he's thought of not going back to the coffeehouse. He's thought of going to the shop next door to get his weekly caffeine fix. He's thought of stopping writing down song lyrics to give her. Sometimes he thinks of going back to the way things were before he ever laid eyes on her.

He thinks of her more, though.

He wonders if her smile would me more brilliant if it was directed at him. He wonders what her laugh sounds like. He's imagined what their first date would be like; where they'd go, what they'd eat, what they'd talk about.

He knows it's crazy to imagine a future with a girl whose name he doesn't even know.

He keeps on writing anyway.

x-x-x

What's a boy to do when all the pretty girls can't measure to you?

It's ridiculous how much she looks forward to his little notes, given that she doesn't know if he's a stalker or if he's just really shy. She doesn't know what his favorite movie is. She doesn't know if he likes Doritos or Cheetos, if he prefers swimming pools to beaches. She doesn't know if he's a Beatles kind of guy or if he's more Rolling Stones.

It's ridiculous but she doesn't really care.

She thinks about him a lot.

She imagines him singing to her, maybe with a guitar or on the piano. She wonders what he scribbles down on that notebook of his. She wonders what drove him to start giving her song lyrics on scraps of paper.

She thinks he's the sweetest guy she's ever come across.

Next week, she thinks. Next week, she'll break her silence.

Probably.

x-x-x

He's packing up his things, getting ready to leave. He had the barista give her a note with the lyrics from a Ronan Keating song this week.

Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she stands and walks over to his table.

He looks up when her shadow falls over him.

She smiles and hands him a piece of paper.

Say, won't you stay? We can talk about nothing at all.

He looks up and grins.

x-x-x

Neither of them notices a pair of eyes observing them.

The barista watches as the girl sits down and shakes the boy's hand.

Finally, the barista thinks. Finally!

She smiles and turns to the person waiting to place his order.

Maybe it's okay to talk to strangers after all.

x-x-x


Just another coffeehouse story. :)

Songs:

What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction

Terrified - Katharine McPhee (feat. Zachary Levi)

Possibilities - Freddie Stroma

Stolen - Dashboard Confessional

Tell Her - Jesse McCartney

I Should Go - Levi Kreis

All The Pretty Girls - fun.

Pretend - Scott Porter and the Glory Dogs